October 20, 2013

Prevent nuisance animals from entering home

Fall is the time to take action, since theat’s when animals look to escape the chill.

By Mary Beth Breckenridge
McClatchy Newspapers

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TIPS FOR KEEPING critters out of your home:

Clean your gutters. Clogged gutters can cause water to pool and create ice dams, rotting fascia boards and roof sheathing and making it easy for squirrels to gnaw through the softened wood.

Repair moisture problems, such as leaking pipes and clogged drains.

Seal holes, cracks and other small openings on the outside of the house and basement. Include the places where pipes and wires enter the house and spaces between the siding and the chimney.

Replace loose mortar and weatherstripping.

Install door sweeps, including under the garage door.

Cap your chimney.

Don’t feed wild animals. It attracts them to your home.

Bring pet food dishes indoors at night.

Use garbage cans with tight-fitting lids, and avoid keeping them outside as much as possible.

Trim tree branches to keep them away from the house. Squirrels can jump up to 8 feet laterally and as far as 10 feet from a high spot to a place below.

Cover vents with grills or rust-resistant screening, if appropriate. Ohio law prohibits screening clothes dryer vents.

Keep areas beneath wooden steps clean.

Keep window screens in good repair.

Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.

Keep shrubbery well-trimmed.

Sources: Brian Briggs of Frontline Animal Removal, National Pest Management Association and Woodstream Corp., which makes Victor rodent control products

The Frontline crew almost always uses live traps to capture nuisance animals and then either releases them some distance away or euthanizes them. By state law, certain animals including raccoons, skunks and opossums must be destroyed because of their potential for spreading diseases. Others can be released, but only outside city or village limits and only on property where the owner has granted permission.

Briggs says homeowners occasionally will want the animals captured in their homes to be released on their own property, but he thinks that’s a mistake. Once an animal has gotten into a home, it will do almost anything to get back in, he says. If you’re not going to remove the animal from the property, you might as well not even bother catching it.


The bats are apparently gone, but their evidence remains on a near two-story home in Plain Township.

Bits of dried bat guano cling to the siding and chimney bricks. More droppings discolor the vents in the soffit where the bats have been living. Often bats will also leave dark streaks where they enter and exit a house, caused by the oil on their bodies.

Briggs’ colleague Ryan Kirk – one of three partners in the business, along with Dominic Morber – is just about ready to remove the bat cone he installed to rid the soffit of the winged intruders. The tube, which was inserted vertically into a portion of the soffit and has an open bottom, serves as a one-way exit. The bats can escape through it, but they can’t get back in. That’s because bats can only re-enter an opening by landing and crawling in, and the tube makes that impossible.

Bats can be expensive to eradicate. The law prohibits destroying bats, so “we can only kick ‘em out,” Kirk says. But the bats will do whatever they can to get back into a place they’ve inhabited, and they can squeeze into an opening just three-eighths inch wide. Keeping them out requires extensive sealing to close up all the little openings they might take advantage of.

Making repairs to prevent further wildlife infestations is part of Frontline’s approach, Briggs explains. He has construction experience, but the company will call in a professional builder if the repairs are extensive enough to warrant it.

“We try real hard to make it look like we were never there,” Kirk says.


Briggs walks the roof of an apartment house in Barberton, Ohio, checking trap after trap. Every one of the 15 is empty.

The building has been plagued by squirrels, but so far he and his colleagues have trapped only two.

“This place is giving us fits,” he says.

Some nearby trees were recently trimmed, so Briggs figures that cut off the squirrels’ path to the building. Still, he expected to find something. He and his crew have closed off all the access points save one, and that one leads to a trap. They even used traps that had been wrapped with duct tape to capture some of the urine and fur of squirrels that were caught in them earlier, in the hope the scent would attract others.

Probably, he says, he’s going to have to go into the attic to look for spots of daylight that would indicate openings they’ve missed.

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Additional Photos

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Two groundhogs are caged waiting to be transported from a home where they were captured in Uniontown, Ohio.

Mary Beth Breckenridge/Akron Beacon Journal/MCT

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Animal removal expert Brian Briggs inspects a home in Akron, Ohio, that shows damage from squirrels. Briggs’ company, Frontline Animal Removal, rids home of nuisance animals.

Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal/MCT


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